New York -- Mary L. Schapiro, the first woman to be permanent chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, announced she will step down on Dec. 14.
Schapiro was appointed head of the SEC by President Obama in 2008, one month after the Bernie Madoff scandal emerged, and she officially took office in 2009 at the peak of the financial crisis. Many experts say her four years were the toughest stretch any SEC chief has faced.
"When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole," President Obama said in a statement. "But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people - thanks in large part to Mary's hard work."
Elisse Walter, an SEC commissioner, will replace Schapiro as SEC chairman for the foreseeable future.